I woke up at 5am on the morning of April 15th, 2013. It was not easy to process those bright, intimidating numbers on my clock. 5 : 0 0. Fueled on adrenaline and fear, I slipped off the covers, washed my face, made some toast, and sat, alone, in the early-morning haze of my apartment. Yeah, I was scared. It’s not easy to run 26.2 miles.
Our bus to Hopkinton was at 6. Right before we left, my friend David and I walked to the top of our parking garage and watched the sunrise. He took this picture.
When I started the marathon, that fear turned to excitement.
It was a wonderful four hours, some of the best of my life. Some of my friends hopped the fence at BC and joined me for the last five miles. I’ll never forget that. And then we were stopped, and over the next few moments we were all trying to unravel what happened. Was this an intentional act? Would we be able to finish? Where should we go? At the time, we didn’t realize the enormity of the situation.
Here is what I wrote on this blog the day after the marathon. Hard to believe it has been a year.
It is hard, impossible really, to make sense of what happened yesterday. I am still in a state of shock, knowing how close I was to it all, and how many friends and family were in the area.
It was such a clash of emotions – from the amazing high of passing the 25-mile mark, less than a mile to go, to the confusion, panic, and terror of hearing the explosions, seeing the police block the course, and trying to contact friends and family. I was thankful to be with five of my friends who were running the last stretch with me – but none of us knew exactly what had happened, the extent of the casualties, or whether there were more bombs in the area.
We were stopped about a half-mile from the finish line. Police barricaded the street while ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars rushed to the scene. We waited around for awhile, trying to get some more information. The scene was hectic to say the least. People were crying and shaking as they were trying to contact loved one’s. Cell service was down, and it took awhile to contact everyone. Soon after, police told us to leave the streets – there were erroneous reports of another bomb in Kenmore Square and even at BC.
I’m obviously disappointed that I was not able to complete the Marathon. But, more importantly, I’m glad that I had slowed up over the last few miles and was safe from harm – if I was five or ten minutes faster, I would have been right at the finish line when the bombs went off.
I will say this – the first 25 miles of the Boston Marathon were amazing. Fans packed the course for the whole run, each town with a different feel – the awesome start in Hopkinton, the screaming girls of Wellesley, the craziness at BC. And then, there were the signs:
You’re almost there! Actually no, you’re not
Today is the only acceptable day to poop your pants
You’ve trained for this longer than the Kardashians were married
My body was hurting, but I was inspired by the kindness of strangers and all the people handing out orange slices and water bottles and candy bars along the course.
In Boston, Patriot’s Day is the best day of the year. It’s a celebration of the city, the history, and the thousands of runners that partake in the Marathon. Classes are cancelled and students line the streets for hours. When I first cheered on the runners at BC during my freshman year, I knew that this was something that I wanted to do – to play a small part in the day’s long history.
After the events unfolded, I was contacted by so many people – college friends, high school friends, family members, people I hadn’t talked to in years. I even got a few messages from phone numbers I didn’t recognize (what do you do in that situation? Do you ask them who they are, or do you just pretend you know who it is?). It means a lot to me that so many people reached out – I am sorry that it took so long to respond to the messages, but cell service was down for obvious reasons. And I’m also thankful that my friends and parents were around as we heard about what happened and left the course. It would have been a difficult situation to deal with alone.
I don’t think I have processed everything quite yet. My emotions are still in a whirlwind. To have been so close to the attacks and to see the panic and tears of the people in the street – it’s just awful. But I am confident that the city will respond with strength and courage – people tend to show their best in the days and weeks following a disaster like this.
In the meantime, I’m going to go take some Advil.